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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Pimp rivalry suspected in deadly shooting

By Peter Boylan
Advertiser Staff Writer

Detectives were investigating whether a shooting that left one man dead late Saturday night was over a turf war between alleged pimps, police said yesterday.

On Saturday, Michael "Cheddar" Truelove, a 24-year-old San Francisco man, was gunned down from behind as he and his 25-year-old brother ran from an unknown number of shooters, who police said were pimps.

Police said the shooting arose out of a territorial dispute, although they did not have evidence that Truelove is a pimp.

The shooting occurred at 11:53 p.m. Saturday, after Truelove and his brother approached a prostitute on Nu'uanu Avenue and Kukui Street, police said.

After a brief conversation, the prostitute fled and a group of men came at the brothers, shooting. The gunmen fired four to six shots as the brothers ran toward Beretania Street, police said.

Michael Truelove was hit in the back, fell, and was shot again while he was down, according to police. His brother never saw him fall and kept running.

The shooters were seen fleeing in a yellow Hummer, police said.

Police interviewed Truelove's brother and are working with him to apprehend the shooter.

"It is an area that's known to have prostitution activity, but then again, it won't affect how we investigate the case," police spokesman Capt. Frank Fujii said.

Prostitutes have long frequented Kukui Street, area residents and police say, and residents said they were not surprised that police were investigating the incident as a possible rivalry between pimps.

Prostitution used to be common on Hotel Street and River Street, but has migrated mauka since bars, art galleries and small businesses have started to gentrify Hotel Street.

Prostitution arrests in Honolulu jumped to 401 last year compared to 265 in 2004, but police say rarely do disputes end in bloodshed. Through June, police have made more than 140 prostitution arrests this year.

"I've been working here for 16 years, and most of the time it is all the same. They should take the prostitutes out of here. It's a part of life, but I don't like to see that," said Jose Bumatay, a maintenance worker for the Kukui Plaza apartment complex.

Yesterday, he was taking down a makeshift memorial erected in the memory of Saturday's shooting victim.

"It's all territory down here. I heard it was a rivalry," Bumatay said. "They come into his territory, and they not supposed to be in his territory. It is all territory down here."

Yesterday, business owners and residents said prostitution on Kukui Street has become a part of daily life.

"I notice a lot of prostitutes day and night," said Ray Leung, 55, owner of Ray's Electronics and Satellite T.V. at the corner of Kukui Street and Pali Highway. "Scary, I didn't know about shootings (associated with the trade). I thought it was only prostitutes."

Eddie Keliinoi, a 48-year-old parking attendant on Kukui Street who lives on River Street, says he is always calling security to chase prostitutes and their customers out of dark corners of the garage where he works. He said the violence will only get worse if police don't step in and clean out the area.

"I knew something like this was bound to happen. Prostitutes are up in here 24 hours a day," he said. "I don't know why (the police) cannot get the girls off the street. I work here and I see the pimps; they drive around in nice cars. This has been going on for years."

Advertiser Staff Writer Robert Shikina contributed to this report.

Reach Peter Boylan at pboylan@honoluluadvertiser.com.